Personal and business branding is pretty overused these days. Everyone wants to build his or her own brand. Some of them even want to create and sustain their brand with as little work as possible. If you are one of those people, you don’t have to continue reading because I’m not going to give you any magic tricks for building a solid brand without a huge amount of effort. For the rest of you not afraid of hard work let’s take a look at how you too can build a strong brand in any field.
Building a brand is hard. It’s not just a matter of creating an attractive logo and putting together a pretty colour palette. Creating a brand can often stir up emotions, frustrations and fears that initially, you don’t expect. This is because your brand ultimately forms the heartbeat of your business.
When you devote yourself to it, you are starting a marathon. However, before making any leap, jump or starting the run you have to ask yourself where do you want to establish you and your brand? You have to ask yourself a series of questions to understand what your brand will be about.
In order to create a brand, you have to put together an action plan. This plan has to answer every what, why and where question you will have and it will also include your mission statement. For example, What is the purpose of your brand? What are the key qualities? What are your strengths (and weaknesses)? How your brand should be perceived? What emotions should it evoke? What experience should it provide? What words should it be associated with? What its mission should be? Think about it as a person instead of a brand. Also, think about the industry or field it should focus on (at least in the beginning).
While answering all these question don’t forget to touch the negative ones too. In order to create a brand that's able to handle every situation you need to answer the “don’t” questions. Just take the questions in the previous paragraph and turn them around. How the brand should not be perceived? What emotions should it not evoke and what experience should it not provide? What associations should it avoid? What kind of business or fields should it keep from? What practices should it not use?
So, what do you need to do before creating a brand?
One important thing to note is that people generally buy based on emotion rather than logic. Therefore, an effective brand needs to have an emotional impact; to connect with the hearts and minds of your customers.
Your brand needs to have a lasting effect. It needs to be memorable; to trigger something in your customer which makes them want to know more about the products or services that you offer.
Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Don’t panic…
At HerWit, we work with our clients to break down all the hard questions as stated above through our HerWit 20xQ workshop in order to put together a solid action plan.
Today to help you through this process, I am going to share some top-line “to-do” before creating a brand for your business. Specifically, 6 basic questions you need to answer, even before you start looking at logo concepts, websites or colour palettes.
Let’s get started…
1. WHAT IS THE VISION I HAVE FOR MY BUSINESS?
The vision of your business encompasses the reason why you do what you do. It is the driving force behind every decision, every action, every process. It is the north star that guides you throughout your entire business journey.
Your vision becomes “the thing”, which encourages you to get out of bed everyday. It is the force that gets you to push through the hard times; to see the light when all you feel like doing is throwing in the towel. Trust me there are days when I wake up and go, why the hell am I doing this and I remind myself of my vision - “everyone has a voice especially women and I am here to let their voices be heard”.
As your business goals and objectives change over time, your business vision might also need reviewing. This is perfectly ok. Just keep in mind that your vision is what moulds your brand message and how you convey this to your audience.
2. WHAT IS THE MISSION OF MY BUSINESS?
The mission of your business identifies your specific goals and objectives. It covers the ‘what’ and ‘who’ aspects.
The business mission is succinct and straightforward. With HerWit, our mission is “to create more female role models and thought leaders.”
It is a single sentence that covers the philosophies that help to guide your business. A strong mission statement will help to provide direction. And, it will inspire a community of loyal followers who are passionate about what you do.
3. WHAT ARE THE VALUES WHICH DRIVE MY BUSINESS?
Your business values determine how your business operates. Essentially, they act as guiding principles that assist to establish a cohesive and authentic work culture. They also contribute to your brand positioning and how your audience perceives your business.
It is important to ensure that your business values connect with who you are and the business that you want to build. It is pointless to create a generic list of values, only because you feel like you should include them.
Have a think about the values which are important to you and how you can apply these to your business. For instance, one of our values is to continuously be authentic and have integrity in all areas of our work to deliver excellence and build trust.
6Q Blog provides a list of incredible examples of company values in their blog post, ‘190 Brilliant Examples of Company Values’. Check it out to get your ideas flowing on how you can create your own list of values.
4. WHAT AM I OFFERING?
This might seem like a very straightforward question at first. However, this question is not about the products or services that you provide. It is about the actual benefits of purchasing those particular products or services.
Features are a factual statement about a product or service. For example, a feature is creating a high-quality launch video or article about you and your business within a 48 hours turnaround time.
Features are not why people decide to buy. That’s where benefits come in… The benefit is the result or consequence of the feature. It is the outcome associated with the offering – the answer to the question of “what’s in it for me?”.
So, if the feature is the 48 hours turnaround time, then the benefit is…
A speedy turnaround time, means your brand new video that will get the message out about you, your business, product and service so that your customers pick you and not someone else. No more waiting weeks to go live! Time is money!
Essentially, it is the value that is provided as a result of your product or service.
5. WHO DO I WANT TO WORK WITH?
When creating a brand for your business, it is important to consider who you’re providing your product or service to. Most importantly though, you need to ask yourself who you would like to work with.
One of the things I ask my clients to do when we work together is to think about their ideal client. What type of person would inspire them to do their best work and remind them of why they started in the first place?
What would their personality be like? How would they dress? What would interest them? How old would they be? Would they have children etc.?
When we think about the people that we would like to appeal to, we tend to group them together in a general range of ages, personality traits, marital statuses, interests, etc. Basically we segment them and then we break them down and create personas.
So for example, they might live in a city apartment, house in suburbia or in a big family home with their husband and kids. They might be between 25-42 years old, be an only child or have five or six siblings.
The best thing you can do is to get as specific as possible. You want to get to the point of describing an individual person rather than a general range of consumers. This doesn’t mean that you have to turn people outside of this description away from your business. A specific set of parameters allows you to identify, understand and connect with people who are right for you and your business.
6. WHO ARE MY COMPETITORS AND WHAT MAKES ME UNIQUE?
A solid understanding of your competitors, their offerings and your unique selling point will push your business forward.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). This little exercise will help you to create a full overview of your competitors so you can determine what makes your business unique. This will enable you to communicate your own strengths and competitive advantage to your audience.
Let’s be honest, when it comes down to it, you want them to choose you over your competition.
With that said, it is important that you don’t become consumed with what your competitors are doing. Information about your competitors is vital to have, but the key is to play to your own unique strengths, as opposed to your competitors’ weaknesses. One strategy may work perfectly for one business, but not for another.
When it comes to creating a brand for your business, I like to think of it as though you’re building a house. The previous six questions form the foundation of the house. With that said, there are a few more questions that need to be answered in order to have a clear idea in mind of the direction that you want to take your business in.
However, if you can answer these questions, your chances of creating a brand that is not only aesthetically pleasing but memorable and impactful are a lot higher.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave me a comment below.